Community Service

HS Community Service

Service at GDS

Educating GDS students about the concerns and problems of the larger community and developing in each student an understanding that each of us has a responsibility to be of service to others has been an important element of life at GDS from the beginning. In the beginning, voluntary projects ranged from making recordings for the blind to supporting desegregating Virginia Schools. As the nature and number of these projects have continued to expand and evolve, commitment to service has continued to solidify itself as an integral part of
a GDS education.

The HS Requirement

Students must make an ongoing commitment to an organization, completing a minimum of 60 hours of service at one or two reputable nonprofit organizations. This work must be:

  • Approved before work begins. If your work is not pre-approved, it may not count.
  • Direct.* You are working on the front lines with the people, animals, or environment that the organization serves, not doing administrative work, fundraising, or special events work.
  • Working towards achieving social justice.* You are addressing and challenging unequal opportunities, inequities, and systems of oppression that exist in society. Through your service, you should be working directly towards increasing equity of opportunities, rights, and resources for all.
  • Free to the organization’s consumers. No fee is charged to the individuals or community the organization serves. Exceptions are made for hospitals and organizations serving senior citizens.
  • Unpaid. You should not be paid in any way for your service.
  • Unique to this requirement. Your work should not be double-counted (e.g. for a scout project or court-ordered).
  • Local and free to you, at least in part. At least 20 hours of your service requirement should be completed locally and independently (e.g., with a nonprofit but not part of a camp, church youth group, or other organized experience). No more than 40 hours from a trip or organized service camp/experience counts towards your requirement (effective September 2013).
  • Supervised by someone unrelated to you.

* Note: In some situations, direct service and work towards social justice may not be aligned. For instance, you may wish to do advocacy work that does not put you in direct contact with the population served; you may wish to do direct service that does not have a clear social-justice link. Each of these situations will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

When can you start and when should the requirement be completed?

  • At least 20 hours of service and a reflection must be completed by the first day of junior year, and all 60 hours and a reflection must be completed by the first day of senior year.
  • A maximum of 30 hours may be gained between the summer of 8th and 9th grade.

What does not meet the requirement:

Volunteering, or giving your time for free, is not enough. Working in an office or teaching Sunday school may provide job skills, but volunteering on its own does not engage you in the world in a way that allows you to respond to real and authentic needs in the community.

There are many worthwhile volunteer opportunities that do NOT meet the service guidelines and which do not count towards the requirement. We still encourage students to volunteer in these capacities for their own personal growth and we DO include these hours after the 60-hour service requirement has been met. These include:

  • Any work that does not work towards achieving social justice.
  • Clerical, office, and administrative work and research that does not put a student in direct contact with the people the organization serves.
  • Campaigning for an individual politician.
  • Work with a special event or fundraiser.
Exceptions may occasionally be made and are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the
Community Service Director and a Community Service Advisory Committee.

Contact Us!

List of 2 members.

  • Catherine Pearson 

    Director of Community Engagement and Experiential Learning
  • Leigh Tait 

    Program Assistant, Community Engagement and Experential Learning


4530 MacArthur Boulevard, NW, Washington, DC 20007


4200 Davenport Street, NW, Washington, DC 20016

Georgetown Day School is a coed, preK-12, non-sectarian private school in Washington, DC with small class sizes and a diverse school community. Our comprehensive, innovative curriculum includes hands-on learning, honors and AP classes, as well as advanced-level math and STEM courses. An education is not just college prep and SAT scores. GDS teachers focus on providing the best education for each child, from elementary grades through high school. The school performing arts program includes theater, dance, and music. The athletics program offers competitive sports for student athletes, including cross-country, track, soccer, lacrosse, and crew/rowing. With our strong commitment to financial aid, an independent school tuition is affordable.